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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gluten Free Opera

The Daring Bakers strike again!

The Daring Bakers' group consists of bakers united around the globe with the goal of furthering our baking education in a supportive fun environment. If we don't succeed at the challenge, we must at the very least, share our disasters for the benefit and belly laughs of all... and we have some doozies from time to time. But, if you don't succeed, embellish the tale and live to bake another day

This month's wonderful challenge was Opera Cake chosen by Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina. Their cohorts were Shea of the blog Whiskful and Fran of the blog Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie.

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.

When I first looked at this challenge I hit the back button so fast my keyboard flinched. It took me three days to stop acting like a chicken baker and go back to the challenge post chanting

"I am a Daring Baker... I am a Daring Baker... "

A traditional Opera Cake has chocolate flavours but the Daring Bakers have no qualms about elbowing tradition out of the sandbox. We were instructed to have a light coloured cake. The flavours and combinations among the bakers were dizzying - green tea, mango, pistachio, passion fruit... Each choice was more inspiring than the next. So what did I choose? Almond and orange. I wanted to really bump up the flavour of the almond meal and balance it with citrus. It worked - it wasn't exotic but it worked!The Opera Cake consisted of 5 components that were prepared separately, then assembled for the final product.

1) Joconde - Sponge cake made with almond meal
2) Almond flavoured sugar syrup
3) Buttercream flavoured with orange zest and vanilla bean
4) Ganache or mousse flavoured with orange zest
5) White chocolate glaze

My joconde turned out perfectly thanks to advice and experience from the other bakers. I watched it like a hawk so that it didn't burn. I substituted the wheat flour for a rice flour combination with xanthan gum. No one would know the difference. I love sponge cake and this was my first gluten free sponge cake.

The sugar syrup was simple and straightforward.

The buttercream worked beautifully but I beat the eggs for at least twice the time required. It wasn't my intention. However, I couldn't hear the timer buzzing over the sound of the mixer. This mistake contributed to my success.

The ganache went grainy. An executive decision was made to brazen it out and use the grainy ganache. Coulda fixed it. Shoulda fixed it. Didn't.

My generous nature acted up and doubled the cream in the glaze. The glaze was a thin shellac that tried to slide off the cake and puddle on the plate.

Despite my snafoos, it was absolutely delicious! Because this was such a generous cake, I made it in two parts and froze half. It freezes beautifully. There is nothing like a shaved frozen slice of cake. Yum.The full recipe can be found at the host blogs.

28 comments:

Em said...

Fantastic!!! Congrats!!! And I agree... the FIRST FEW TIMES that I read thru the recipe I was sure my skills would never get me to the finish line. But, breaking it down into the component pieces and spreading it over a few days really made this do-able. I love being a Daring Baker. Your cake looks great!!!!!

Renee said...

Great idea on freezing half. Your cake looks fantastic!

Dolores said...

Almond and orange sounds exotic to me. AND you did it gluten free? You ARE a daring baker... no question. Congratulations... great job!

glamah16 said...

Yumm, Almond and orange. It looks lucious.

Sara said...

yum, looks delicious! great flavor combo!

pixie said...

your cake looks fantastic and I am always in awe of the 'restricted' bakers. luten free and yummy? Wow!!!!

Aparna said...

Really lovely with perfect layers. Didn't know this could be freezed. Thanks for that tip.

Megan said...

Love your flavor combo! The cake looks beautiful and I love the garnish. That recipe could intimidate anyone but we are Daring Bakers! :)

enza said...

yes it's a very difficult one!
so I had same problem with ganache, a hard mass but it worked perfectly when added whipped cream.
sooo, your shot are beautiful and despite It will be hard to find xanthan gum I believe in you.
By the way, for gluten free have you seen this one?
it's in italian but if you like something you can ask a traslation.
www.ilricettariodianna.blogspot.com

Jenny said...

Beautiful BC! I knew you would overcome the panic and turn out a lovely cake!

mamma3 said...

Hi! I've done the meme homeworks, and your Opèra cake is wonderful! Elga

Laurie said...

You are a Daring Baker..You are a Daring Baker!! :)
The slivered almonds look great!!

Cheryl said...

that looks like a beautiful combination with the almond and orange. Congrats on having it work so well!

Barbara said...

That looks so good! Great Job.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Looks absolutely delicious!!! You are definitely a daring baker :-)

Lunch Buckets said...

Beautiful! I put some in the freezer too - then realized that wasn't enough to keep me from eating it. So I took it to work :)

Shari said...

Almond and citrus sound perfect. I like the idea of a shaved piece of frozen cake!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

pixie said...

That's a very eleant cake you have there. I wanted citrus as well but I also felt that I've been concentrating too much on those flavours and decided to veer away from it. Looking at your cake I wish I had done otherwise!!!

Gabi said...

Beautiful Opera cake! The almond and orage are a great combination no need for more exotic flavours!
xoxo

Claire said...

Such a great cake. It does look like a good cake to make gluten free since it had very little to start with! Glad it was such a success.

Lis said...

I love your perfect layers.. how do you do that?? I'm so happy you talked yourself into going back and diving in.. true Daring Baker you are, lil missie! :)

Terrific post!

xoxoxo

Rebecca said...

Your layers look so perfect! Excellent job.

Deborah said...

What a perfect cake!! Especially that last slice - it's gorgeous!

creampuff said...

The end result is just gorgeous!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your cake looks gorgeous! Very well done!

Cheers,

Rosa

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a lovely job on your Opera Cake.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Fran Z said...

Beautiful cake! Love your presentation!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I only found your Opera today. It came out so beautiful, perfect layers!